City to develop 2,000 market-rent, affordable rental units
Housing minister says work on one site could begin as early as next spring, with 600 low-cost homes
Toronto is moving forward with the development of 2,000 market-rent and affordable rental housing units, through a provincial agreement to unlock surplus land across the city.
“There are far too many people who need to live in this city, who we need to have live in this city, who we want to live in the city, who would have an income that wouldn’t allow them to live affordably in this city,” Mayor John Tory said.
The rental properties will be built on two lots in the West Don Lands, as well as the site of a multi-level parking lot on Grosvenor St. and the old provincial coroner’s office on Grenville St.
Tory’s remarks were made during a press conference with provincial Housing Minister Peter Milczyn, at one future site near St. Lawrence Market, on Wednesday morning.
The land will go up for sale on Thursday and developers will be invited to submit proposals, with the understanding the property must be used for affordable and market-rent housing.
The province will profit from the sale, but the expectation is the land will sell for less than it would if it was put on the market with no restrictions, Milczyn said.
They hope to have the first round of proposals within a month and work could begin on one site as early as next spring, he said. The decision to unlock the property was announced in late April.
Milczyn said at least 30 per cent or 600 rental homes will be affordable. In Toronto, affordable is defined as rental units costing at or below the average rent across the city.
The remaining 1,400 will be at the “low end” of market rent, or the average rent for similar-sized properties across the city.
“So all of these units, compared to some of the other buildings that are around us, will be more affordable than you would otherwise see in the city,” he said.
At least one in 10 of the new units will be designed for large families, he said.
“Families should be able to live in these communities,” Milczyn said.
The city will be waiving $27.9 mil- lion in fees, charges and property taxes to support the development of the 600 affordable units through the city’s Open Door Program.
Kenneth Hale, director of legal service with the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario, said one concern is according to federal and provincial agreements, affordable housing is defined as less or equal to 80 per cent of market rent.
“Eighty per cent of Toronto rent is not affordable to the people who need housing most in this city,” Hale said, and particularly people receiving social assistance.
In Toronto, more than 181,000 people are on wait-lists for affordable housing.
On Wednesday, Tory said the city has “great plans to do more” and people should “stay tuned for us making more land available,” for affordable housing.
Councillor Ana Bailao, the city’s housing advocate, said the development will “serve an important need,” by providing safe, affordable and long-term housing for families and workers in the downtown.
Tory and Bailao praised late councillor Pam McConnell, who passed away in July and was devoted to social justice and the creation of affordable housing. Bailao said McConnell’s vision of an inclusive city was a powerful reminder that equality is a shared responsibility.
Next week, Bailao will be presenting information on the creation of an additional 298 units, in seven developments, run by not-for-profit, cooperative and private sector organizations, to the city’s affordable housing committee.
The city will be investing a further $22.4 million in “capital funding and fees, charges and property tax relief,” also through the Open Door program, Bailao said in a release.
The city will, for the first time, meet and exceed an annual target to approve more than 1,000 affordable units annually, she said.
Ontario Housing Minister Peter Milczyn, right, and Mayor John Tory announce that 2,000 rental units will be built on unlocked provincial lands.
Councillor Ana Bailao said the development will “serve an important need.”